SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS IMPROVEMENT IN FISCAL OUTLOOK AS BUDGET SEASON APPROACHES; LIPA TAX SHIFT, TRS, AND HEALTH INSURANCE LESS THAN EXPECTED
November 23, 2013 -- Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Melnick reported at Thursday evening’s Board of Education meeting that the fiscal outlook for next year's budget is much better than expected. The brightening forecast is due to a reduction in the anticipated district contribution to the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), lower than expected health insurance premiums, and what appears to be near certainty that the tax shift from the Glenwood Landing LIPA ramp down will have far less of an impact on residential tax rates in the short term than once feared.
The district had been basing its TRS figures for the 2014-15 budget on projections from the Empire Center on New York State Policy that school district contributions would increase from 16.25% of payroll this year to as high as 23% next year. Dr. Melnick reported that the numbers recently provided by the Teacher’s Retirement System showed that the increase in the district's contribution will still be high at 17.25 to 17.75% percent of payroll, but significantly less than the 23% that the district had been anticipating. In addition, the Superintendent stated that health insurance premiums next year would also be lower than expected.
Perhaps most promising of all however is that the immediate tax burden shift from the decommissioning of the Glenwood Power plant will not be nearly as great as the 19% single year shift that had been presented months ago as a worst case scenario. While he said that he could not go into all the details because of litigation, Dr. Melnick stated that based on conversations with the Nassau County Assessor’s office back in June, the shift in tax burden from one tax class to another tax class cannot exceed 1% per year. Dr. Melnick reported that Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy had received similar information in his conversations with the County Assessor’s office.
In an interview with Northwordnews, Mr. Kennedy explained that under a bill that was sponsored by State Senator Jack Martins (R-Mineola) and signed into law on June 30th, a reduction in assessed value in one property tax class cannot result in more than a 1% increase in the proportion of taxes paid by another class. There are four tax classes in Nassau County – Residential, Coops and Condos, Commercial, and Utilities. In the past, Mr. Kennedy explained, the law was that there could not be more than a 5% increase, but for the last several years, that number has been reduced to 1% by legislation that has been renewed annually, as it was this past June for 2014-15. If the legislation is not renewed for 2015-16, the maximum shift will return to 5%.
Mr. Kennedy said that he has been familiar with the law through his work as Mayor of Sea Cliff (which has only two classes for village taxes), and that during a lobbying trip with district representatives to Albany late last winter he had raised the issue. The purpose of the law, he explained, is to protect taxpayers from a huge tax hike when a large portion of the tax base disappears. He said that he, the Village Attorney, Village Treasurer, and County Legislator Delia Deriggi-Whitten had met with the County assessor’s office about six weeks ago, and it was confirmed that the increase for an individual tax class could not be greater than 1% for 2014/15.
CLICK HERE for the text of Senate Law 3708 – 13 which limits the tax shift to 1% from one tax class to another.
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